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Unemployment Blues: Reframing The Pain

Aug 17, 2007
In addition to the anger and fear generated by job loss, there is the total emotional devastation of being figuratively thrown on a pile of human debris. Regardless of the reason you are no longer working - company losses, relocation, outsourcing - the process hurts!

You are being given notice that you are not as important as you thought; that your employer and, by extension the world, can get along very nicely without you. More than being respected or being loved, we all desperately want to be needed. Having others depend on our help and support feeds into our self-image as a valuable human being. We feel so much better about ourselves when we are able to give to others rather than having to beg for help ourselves.

So along with the financial security and personal comfort of our old job, we have lost confidence in our own self-worth. We have allowed others to determine our value. We subconsciously buy into that judgment by feeling that we're not successful when we're not being productive.

Before writing your resume or combing the classifieds, take time for self-assessment. Write down your personal as well as your occupational strengths. Recognize the importance of your many life roles: your intimate relationships, your family, your children, your church, and your community. While you identify with your occupation when dealing with the world, remind yourself that any job is far less central to the real you than are the people you love.

We tend to buy into our society's mantra that material success is the ultimate goal and the only road to freedom and happiness. While having plenty of money never hurt anyone, in itself, it cannot be allowed to become our core value without jeopardizing what it really means to be human: to be connected, to care about others, to give of ourselves in order to participate in meaningful, satisfying relationships, the essence of a successful life.

For the next few weeks, you may need to concentrate most of your energies on finding work. But in the process, hold on to the important people in your life. Unemployment is traumatic but usually temporary (although it may feel as if it's going to last forever). Cultivating other aspects of your individuality will not only sustain your belief in your own value as you plod through the often degrading search for work, but will also ensure that when the job search is successfully completed that you still have a meaningful life and exhilarating relationships to enjoy.
About the Author
A Licensed Psychologist and Rehabilitation Counselor, Dr. Bola developed emotional coping strategies and job search skills for clients and has served as a recognized Vocational Expert in court. Visit her at: http://www.unemploymentblues.com
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